Whether you call it a blankie, a lovey or some other name your little one has affectionately given her favorite blanket, it can feel like your entire life revolves around your child's security object. Blankets make your little one feel safe, especially in times of transition or separation. But there comes a time in every child's life when the blanket needs to be left behind. As long as you go about the process in a slow and sensitive way, you can break the bond between child and blanket as she grows up and becomes more independent.
Consider the timing before you decide to do away with your child's blankie. If you're in a time of transition and change, like going to a new school, welcoming a baby brother or moving, taking away your child's blanket could be disastrous because she sees it as consistency and security in change. Wait until your schedule has calmed down and your little one is better adjusted before you decide to take her blanket away.
Remove the blanket in small increments through a few trial separations to start. The University of Texas HealthLeader suggests putting the blanket in the wash to get an hour or two sans blankie. Then, try leaving the blanket at home while you run to the grocery store. These trial separations will help your little one feel more comfortable in spending less time with her blanket and more time being independent.
Give your child choices when it comes to leaving the blanket behind. Try, "We have to leave the blanket at home while we go to Grandma's, but do you want to pick a special place for it until you come back?" This helps your child focus on something other than leaving her blanket at home and helps her feel more in control of the terms of the separation.
Offer a substitute object for your child's blanket. Blankies can't go to kindergarten or off to a play date, but a laminated picture of her family or a charm bracelet can. Sometimes, your child just needs a little reminder of home to accompany her when she's separated from you. Head to the store or talk about replacements and have your child pick out something that she can wear or put in her pocket to make her feel better.
Expect a fight when you first suggest retiring your child's blanket. Your little one will be reluctant to leave her lovey behind. Try suggesting the separation ahead of time, gently letting your child know that school is starting soon and she won't be able to bring her blanket with her. Giving your child a head's up beforehand can make the separation less abrupt.
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